Sunday, 16 October 2016

Successful Co-writing - Guest Post Cass Grafton and Ada Bright


Today, I am delighted to welcome the next guests to my Autumn Spotlight - the lovely Cass Grafton and Ada Bright. I've always had a fascination with writers who successfully co-write (writing alone is hard enough!) so invited Cass and Ada to tell us how they have managed to make their partnership work.

Cass:


Hi! My name is Cass and Ada is my good friend and writing partner, and we’re delighted to be here on Wendy’s Writing Now to talk about our co-writing process when working on our recently released book, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen!

First and foremost, we’d like to say a huge thank you to Wendy for hosting us! It’s lovely to be here, participating in your Guest Blog openings this autumn!

By way of background, Ada lives in California and I live in Switzerland. Aside from the thousands of miles between us, there’s also a nine-hour time difference, but funnily enough, that really worked in our favour during the writing process, as you will see from Ada’s comments below!

~~

Ada:

If you're a writer, imagine being told you could write a book and skip some of the things you don't enjoy about writing. That is what our co-writing process is like, and I love it!

What Cass brings to the writing table is exactly what I lack and vice versa. What I can produce quickly is what takes her a long time to process. So, maybe with someone else I might feel selfish by suggesting she take ‘xyz’ while I work on ‘abc’; but with Cass, breaking duties up to suit our strengths generally ends up making us both happy.  

Does that mean it was the easiest thing in the world? No, we had our share of difficult times. When things were moving along well in both our lives, we were working pretty much continuously on the book: I would write while Cass slept, she would edit my draft or start something new when I went to sleep and so on But, invariably, one of our creative and/or personal lives wouldn't quite cooperate and that meant the other person was pretty well stuck whether or not they were feeling the same. 

Still, if I was coming back from a difficult week away from writing, I always had a cheerleader and a partner in Cass to come back to; to get my writing juices flowing again.  

Our process involves a lot of teasing each other as well. Never did I laugh more than when typing "Cass writes something brilliant here" rather than fixing the section I was supposed to fix…or, if I'd already used that one recently, giving all the characters Valley Girl accents just to make Cass's brain explode in the morning. I would snicker to myself, imagining that somewhere, a half globe away, Cass was opening up my draft, keen to work on what I'd sent her - then innocently read the part I'd mangled and right then be cursing my name!

We would often stage FaceTime debates for a particular section we wanted cut or kept. The battles never felt like losses though, because whenever we were struggling with something it would invariably be worked out better in discussion and often lead us to exactly where we needed to go next.

We also both swore to each other, before we'd made airline reservations, before we'd created an outline and before we'd written a line, that our friendship needed to come first. It felt silly at times that we'd have thought we'd need such a promise. But maybe, by making the promise, we'd already proven ourselves good enough friends to work through whatever might come up!

~~~

Cass:

So there you go! That’s how it worked on a day-to-day level - a total collaboration where we’d each pass the baton to the other and back again, tweaking scenes again and again until neither could remember who had written what!

We used FaceTime frequently for brainstorming and ‘meetings’ (so much so, we felt quite bereft once the book was out and the need for these chats dropped from almost daily to about once a week)! This was where the time difference was a bonus again, as early morning is my most creative time, and late at night is Ada’s!

We also used OneDrive to upload the sections we’d worked on, along with any pertinent notes for each other (though our most frequent lament was, ‘I hate OneDrive’)!

Oh, and despite the challenges, we laughed - a lot! One of the abiding things we will take from this whole co-writing process is that it was fun! After all, we had two writers working on one story - that’s twice the energy, twice the imagination and creativity and half the workload - what’s not to like? Yes, it was hard work; yes, we had tough decisions to make and problems to work through or around, but fun is what it was, and we can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone thinking about giving it a try!



Ada Bright is an author, wife, mother, friend and all around lover of stories.  She grew up in Southern California, where she maintains a fun household and yearns for rain once in awhile.

Cass Grafton is an author and explorer who loves travel, words, and wine. She is a British ex-pat living in Switzerland with her patient and lovely husband. 

Cassandra (Cass) Grafton

Co-author with Ada Bright of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen
Author of the A Fair Prospect trilogy 
Co-author of The Darcy Brothers

Visit me:
Our Blog: Tabby Cow
My Website: Cass Grafton


Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, is looking forward to the annual Jane Austen Festival hosted by the city. 

Her anticipation isn’t just for the events she will enjoy, though. Also attending this year will be one of her best friends, an American called Morgan, and this will be the first time in their 7-year online friendship they will meet in person! To add a further frisson of excitement, it’s the one time a year she gets to see her secret crush, an eminent archaeologist who often comes to the Festival to deliver a presentation.

What Rose doesn’t know is that one person attending the Festival has a stronger connection to it than anyone else; someone who will turn Rose’s orderly life upside down by sharing an astonishing secret with her, after which the entire legacy of Jane Austen’s work fades into oblivion.

With the happy melody of her life in tatters, Rose has to face up to a new one; a life devoid of her favourite books, characters, her beloved job and home and even some of her friends.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?



34 comments:

  1. Interesting blog post, particularly as I've just finished co-writing a book. It's something I didn't think I'd ever do but when I was approached about this particular project – a non-fiction book about writing – I immediately saw the benefits. I could just write about the things I know most about and leave the areas I'm less strong on to my writing partner. Of course that depends on having the right partner, with complimentary skills, just as Ada and Cass do.

    Still not convinced I could do it with fiction though!

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    1. That's interesting, Patsy - I didn't know you were co-writing a book too. I also think I''d find it much easier for non-fiction.

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    2. I'm glad you had the chance to co-write, Patsy! It can be tough sometimes with fiction. We both had things we were attached to that we had to cut in the end, usually at the suggestion of the person who didn't write that bit! I think because we've been co-writing fiction for the whole length of our friendship (14 years now), when it came down to penning a novel, part of it was second nature to us!

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    3. Very interesting, though I have to say Cass and I would struggle much more writing non-fiction. Our natural writing voices are very different from each other. It's only when we adopt a common world that our writing gels. If we wrote non-fiction I think it would digress into a series of squabbles about what made sense and what didn't and eventually lead us to argue about US Independence from GB ;)

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  2. I'm so glad I read this. I am a great fan of the US crime writer Charles Todd, who is in reality a mother-and-son writing team called Charles and Caroline, though it was several years before I discovered this. What I admire about writing teams is that you can't see the join. Thanks for sharing your writing process, Cass and Ada. A truly fascinating blog.

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    1. Thank you, Susanna! We hope people find our story seamless, as we both worked on every aspect of it together! I'm keen to try the books of Charles Todd now!

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    2. Thank you! There's another writing duo that was interesting to me - combining a pure romance writer with a military/thriller writer that had some fun products (Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer) - Ada

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    3. I Susanna. Fascinated with the idea of mother and son co-writing. I wonder who has the last word?

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  3. Loved reading this, as I have co-written two novels in similar circumstances - I'm in the UK and my co-writer is in Canada. There are so many similarities and situations I'm familiar with. Suddenly, I don't feel quite so freakish :)

    Liv Thomas

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    1. Yaay! We're part of a club, Liv! ;) I love that you and your co-writing friend share similar experiences!

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    2. Another co-writer - how clever you all are!

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  4. Thanks for your comments Isabella and Susanna. To make a co-written novel seemless is quite an art.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading along, Rae! We really did have a lot of fun writing the book, and we hope it comes through in the story itself!

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    2. Whoops! This was supposed to be a reply to Rae's post, Wendy. Sorry!

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  5. What a fantastic, upbeat post, ladies - your special relationship shines through! I can certainly see the benefits of having to commit to and meet writing goals, so as not to let down the other writer. Lovely to learn what it takes to make such a project work. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Rae. I'm envious of their working relationship.

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  6. Thank you Cass, Ada and Wendy for such an interesting post. This sounds a really fun way to write and lovely to hear how the friendship comes first :)

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    1. Thank you for reading along, Tracy! It definitely was fun!

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    2. Maybe we should give it a go, Tracy. Maybe not though - too many teacakes would get eaten in the process!

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  7. What a great post. Thanks for sharing your writing life, Cass and Ada - you make it sound like fun, though I've always imagined it must be difficult to co-write anything. And your book sounds brilliant!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary! We are hoping the enjoyment we had writing the book comes across to the reader!

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    2. I think I'd always want to be in charge!

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  8. This was such an uplifting, lovely post to read as well as totally fascinating. It sounds like great fun and the book sounds fantastic too. Many thanks to you all, Cass, Ada and Wendy. xxx

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    1. Thank you, Joanna! We had fun writing the post too!

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  9. What a fascinating interview. I'd really like to try co-writing someday - sounds like a lot of fun.

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    1. We highly recommend it, Nicola. What works for us is that we have very different writing processes. We think if we both worked in the same way as each other, it would be a lot harder!

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    2. I'm not sure whether it would be for me, Nicola, but I have great respect for those who make it work so successfully.

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  10. I love the clause in the 'contract' that the friendship must always come first. I have a friend who co-writes plays with another chap; I wonder if they have the same agreement?

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    1. :D

      I love that we made it, but never went even close to needing it!

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    2. Yes the contract was an interesting addition! thanks for commenting, Julia.

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